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Photo by Sara Blaylock
The patatas bravas from Bar Tomàs are said to be the best in town
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Carrer Major de SarriàA view of the top of the street, which winds its way down towards Barcelona.
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Gema Platz and Ramón Regada, La Pimpinel·la de Sarrià
Gema Platz and Ramón Regada, owners and founders of La Pimpinel·la de Sarrià (nº. 16), opened their costume and tuxedo studio-shop in 1986. The couple live outside Sarrià, but love the neighbourhood for its hometown feeling. It represents a part of old-world Catalunya in the 21st century. Nowhere else in the city, Platz claims, are there so many original homes and buildings: “This neighbourhood is more than 1,000 years old, and this is, more or less, what it looked like then.”
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La Pimpinel·la de Sarrià, nº. 16
Pimpinel·la enjoys steady business from local clients, theatre groups and weddings, as well as the rich and famous. Their walls are lined with career highlights. Among the famous people they’ve dressed are US actor Don Johnson, Catalan tennis player Sergi Bruguera, and international footballers Michael Laudrup and Ronald Koeman. Platz, a self-trained seamstress, designs and manufactures all the shop’s costumes in-house and enlists the help of local tailors for tuxedos and morning jackets.
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Patatas bravas at Bar Tomàs
Among the salty and fried temptations at Bar Tomàs (nº. 49), the most famous are its 'patatas bravas', a simple plate of fried potato wedges drenched in alioli (garlic mayonnaise) snapping with garlic. When asked to explain what makes his 'bravas' the best in town, proprietor Antonio Betorz struggled to explain: “They’re well done and that seems to make a difference.”
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Bar Tomàs, nº. 49
Bar Tomàs opened its doors 90 years ago, and Antonio Betorz has run it since 1986. He continues to feed his original regulars, and their kids, and now their kids’ kids and keeps his prices low because he wants to attract people from all walks of life.
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Foix de Sarrià, nº. 57
Foix de Sarrià is a 124-year-old confectionery and pastry shop that was established in 1886 by Josep Foix i Ribera and has been a staple in the neighbourhood—and his family—ever since. Locals and members of the Spanish royal family alike delight in Foix’s dulcet delicacies and additive-free daily breads.
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Jordi and Oriol Madern of Foix de Sarrià
The current proprietor of Foix de Sarrià, Jordi Madern i Mas, took over the historic shop after the death in 1987 of his cousin, renowned Surrealist poet and journalist Josep Vivenç (J.V.) Foix. Madern said of his cousin, he was “a great and influential person, a patriot and a family man.” On a tour of the Foix workshop, a three-floored, many-roomed house above the storefront, he pointed out both Hello Kitty chocolates (“very popular among our British, American and German clients”) and the “surrealist-inspired” egg forms his brother Oriol was working on to decorate the elegant shop for the Easter season. Madern insists on using local fruits and ingredients, which are purchased from “country farmers who collect them from the local fields and woodlands”, but also insists on avoiding clichés and will throw in an exotic element or foreign speciality as he sees fit.
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Casa Joana, nº. 59
Catalan restaurant Casa Joana opened 43 years ago, and the original Joana is the mother of current owner, Rosa. Rosa’s daughter Ángeles said: “Over the years, the area surrounding the historic centre has modernised and changed a lot, but the centre has stayed very much the same. It has retained its charm.”
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Església Sant Vicenç de Sarrià
Actually located just off Major de Sarrià, on Rector Voltà 5, this is the parish church of the neighbourhood. The first historical record of a church on this spot dates from 1147 CE.
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Antigua Casa Rafael, nº. 77
Thought to be the oldest restaurant in Sarrià, the Antigua Casa Rafael opened around 130 years ago and is still run by the Jornet family. It serves generous portions of traditional Catalan 'menjar casolà' (home-cooked food).
People often forget that Sarrià is part of Barcelona. Geographically removed from much of the city, you’re unlikely to simply find yourself in the neighbourhood. However, take the FGC to Sarrià station and you’ll be within a stone’s throw of Major de Sarrià, the central street of the barri.
Take a trip along the street with our slideshow—click above to get a feel for this historic Barcelona street.